I must say that I’m feeling exceptionally proud of my two children – Zach and Sam.

Although not exactly kids anymore (Zach is now 22 and Sam 20) they continue to make me thankful to be their dad, especially so for the incredible human beings they’ve become and the lives they have created for themselves.

As a parent you always want the best for your kids and will pretty much do anything to help them no matter what.

However, at some point they must follow their own dreams.  All you can do is prepare them…

There is no manual on being a parent, and sometimes you make mistakes along the way but you’re always trying your best no matter what.

All I can say is that I’ve been truly blessed to have helped raise two smart, empathetic and emotionally intelligent human beings.

My son Zach earlier this year graduated with an honours degree in History from McGill University in Montréal has now been accepted into the Australian National University in Canberra to undertake his Master’s degree.

His plan for some years now has been to attain his PhD and become a professor in history.

He’s continuing to work hard toward his dream!

My daughter Samantha is undertaking her undergraduate degree at the University of Waterloo in Mathematics and Computer Science.  She recently began her third year of the five-year coop program.

Enabling students to undertake both school and a job placement (changing at the end of every term) throughout their university years.

This is a great concept as the students come away, not only with a first-class degree but also with real work experience and a resume that gets noticed.

Sam’s first job placement was with a company called Nasdaq Data Link (Quandl).  Working on data analytics projects has been both exciting and challenging.

She’s learned a lot and has stayed on to work after her first placement part time through school in addition to her work placements.

Life hasn’t always been conventional for them as my ex and I split nine years ago, just as they were both about to enter their teenage years.

Coming from a broken home was not easy… and the first year of adjustment was difficult as we all resettled into our new homes and routines.

My ex and I made a pact, which we’ve stuck to firmly in that we’d always co-parent to the best of our abilities.  This meant constant communication and support for each other with the kids.

Simply put we agreed to always speak well of each other with the kids and to keep our issues separate and to ourselves.

Normalizing our relationship and restructuring our new lives was the first step in helping Zach and Sam adjust.

Becoming a single parent is difficult, irrespective of whether you’re a man or woman… equally challenging.  It’s definitely not for the faint of heart!

From the start of our separation, I committed to myself that I would be the best dad I could be and do everything in my power to ensure that they felt loved and supported no matter what.

A simple example for me was learning to cook.  I did this to ensure that whenever the kids were with me that they always had a home cooked meal made with love.

Meals were a time to catch up and talk without distractions.   Yep, no electronics for any of us.  We needed to be 100% present.

Over the years it got to the point if I asked them if they’d like to go out for dinner they’d always say no as they preferred to stay home so I could cook dinner.

It’s been one of the cornerstones of our life together.

Even though I came from a household growing up where kids should be seen and not heard, I took an opposing approach where I engaged and included them in decisions.

I’ve been less of the authoritarian and more of the coach, mentor and confidant.

Now that didn’t mean less discipline – far from it!

Another important aspect of our relationship was that I had to be open to having a conversation about any topic (nothing was off the table – from sex, drugs, relationships, school…you name it) and moreover I had to learn to listen rather than speak.

Asking them questions so that they were able to see all angles and chart a path forward was important without me telling them what to do.

This by the way was one of the most difficult things about being a parent – not judging, but listening.

As a parent you love your children unconditionally, but at the same time you need to guide them so that they can develop the confidence to begin navigating life on their terms.

Sure, would it have been easier, at times to tell them what to do but honestly, I would rather them decide and make some mistakes along the way.

No better teacher than experience!

When it came to vacations and school breaks my ex and I had an arrangement whereby I would take the first week and she the second.  Or in the case of a big trip, that the kids would be with me for the entire two weeks then with her the following vacation.

I’m sure this sounds somewhat inconsequential, but it’s worked beautifully over the years.

The three of us have travelled extensively – sometimes road-trips across North America, other times by plane to the West coast, as well as Europe, Asia, and home to Australia.

Again, this was another important piece of the confidence building process.  My plan was to expose them to different people, cultures, and languages, all over the world.

Building a sense of comfort and worldliness, whereby they could travel anywhere and not feel intimidated.   I felt it was important to get them out of their comfort zone and equip them to be able to adapt quickly and easily to any location or situation.

I’d like to think that my contribution to them as a father has been to provide them with a life full of possibilities and opportunities to see and explore the world…

As you can tell I am incredibly proud of who they’ve become and how they approach each day to live their best life.

Until next week